Jinnah, minorities and cake

Published: August 25, 2011

Within a few years, there will be no need for the white frosting on the Independence Day cake. PHOTO: THE CAKERY FACEBOOK PAGE

After four years of celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day on foreign soil, I finally had the opportunity to celebrate the 14th of August in Pakistan. As with most celebrations in Pakistan, this celebration too inadvertently revolved around food. On this momentous occasion, one of my cousins baked a cake that looked like the Pakistani flag.

As I was staring at the appetizing green and white cake, I was reminded of a fact that my teacher once told me of how the green in the flag represented the Muslims in Pakistan, and the white the non-Muslims. I smirked to myself and thought that if that were the case, the cake needed to be redone to have 97% green frosting and 3 per cent white frosting, with the green frosting encroaching on the white frosting.

Even on the joyous occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day, I could not help but notice the lack of inclusion, and the ill treatment of our minorities in the celebrations. Repeatedly one would see politicians and children, on television, stating the fact that Pakistan was made for Muslims and is the land of Muslims, with no reference to our minorities. One can only imagine how a Christian Pakistani or a Hindu Pakistani would feel after hearing these statements.

Over the past few years, Pakistan has been in a downward spiral of extremism and intolerance, evident by the fact that fliers calling for the deaths of Ahmadis are openly circulated. Moreover, Christians are murdered for not converting to Islam. 64 years ago Pakistan was formed because of fears that the Muslims would be oppressed as a minority in undivided India. It is beyond ironic that minorities are oppressed today in Pakistan.

It is common practice to talk about “Jinnah’s Pakistan” and how far Pakistan currently is from its vision. For most Pakistanis, Jinnah’s Pakistan is a mythical land, where it is no business of the state what caste, creed or religion one belongs to, and where there is “no distinction between one community and another”. Unfortunately for them, Jinnah passed away before he could elucidate the framework of a state based on preserving “Muslim ideology” that would allow people to freely go to their temples and mosques. Regardless of the confusing elements of Jinnah’s Pakistan, one thing is clear: that Jinnah’s starting fundamental principle for Pakistan was that “we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State”, meaning equal rights for minorities in Pakistan. Jinnah must be rolling over in his grave at the sight of the ill treatment and exclusion of minorities in Pakistan today.

It is an understatement to say that more tangible efforts must be made to include and safeguard the rights of minorities in the country. For instance, we can start by something as simple as working towards a national holiday for the Pakistani Hindus, whose population is equal to that of the Pakistani Christian population, but do not have a national holiday like the Pakistani Christians do.

Having a national holiday for the Pakistani Hindus would be a positive step towards including and highlighting the various major religions in Pakistan. In addition, laws such as the blasphemy law, which is used to target and oppress minorities, needs to be challenged, and those who incite hate against religious minorities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Once tangible action like this is taken to integrate minorities into Pakistani society, and to safeguard their rights, we will move closer respecting Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan.

64 years since its creation, it is clear that Pakistan is a state where minorities are not treated as equal citizens. We cannot just lament over the fact that Pakistan has not turned out as Jinnah envisioned for minorities. We need to be more proactive in addressing the issue, otherwise, within a few years, there will be no need for the white frosting on the Independence Day cake.


Daniyal Noorani

Currently doing business development for a biotech company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In his spare time he writes and plays music. His first single, Find Heaven, addresses radicalization and Taliban militancy and has been shown in a number of film festivals, most recently the London Independent Film Festival. He tweets at @daniyalnoorani

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Tabish

    Good insight. It depends how the authorities treat secularism in an Islamic republic, then the above questions can be cleared.Recommend

  • tanoli

    @ writter
    OK we believe you can you do something for minorities can you explain to us what in
    your mind right now pakistan dont even give full rights of there muslim population unlike
    the non muslim pakistan is a country last decades just fuedals and army only ruled and
    tell me is there one education system even for muslims answer is big OO we are bunch
    of some lucky who some how get away from pakistan and now talking like you do right

  • tanoli

    OH yeah i forgote to ad something mr jinnah himself was a from minority sect in islam
    khoja agha khani.Recommend

  • N.S

    Are you joking? There are no minorities in Pakistan. Pakistan was only made for Muslims. Jinnah was a proper Muslim and all that jazz. Hindus are all in India. India is synonymous with Hindu. Nevermind the 160 million or so Muslims who chose to remain in India during partition, and made India their home.

    That’s what people like tanoli think, with their incredibly narrow minded and bigoted views, apparent in the comment above me where he/she refers to Jinnah as ‘khoja agha khani.’ Well done. That’s exactly the kind of attitude that will get you very far in life. Hate on minorities.Recommend

  • rk singh

    @ Writer,

    with people like you, there is still hope for pakistan.Recommend

  • Waseem

    I think the first thing is to educate the youth, and by these stories and articles and news we are educating some people (i say some because still most of paksitani people are still beleive in what the writer said that Pakistan is for muslims only). I say even if it is for muslims, if the muslims living in Pakistan are true muslims and following the religion of Hazrat Muhamamd pbuh then Pakistan would be in so much better position then it is now. But we are following the molvis islam of hate and terror.
    We need to teach out youth and adults that Pakistan is first, a hindu, christian, sikh is as pakistani as a muslim who is sunni, shia, .. and ofcourse ahmadis .. depending what you think they are muslim or not as i belive they are…. We need the knowledge and experience of all faith, culture to develop Pakistan and we need to kick out the ill mentality of molvis that we anyone who does not pray in my mosque is kafir..

    So the first thing is to teach our youth and adult and it can only be done by media..Recommend

  • An Indian

    Pakistan was created because muslims feared they would be oppressed in India.The interesting thing is that today, muslims in india are treated as equal citizens… They are not oppressed..And the minorities in pakistan are ill treated … I wish pakistan well .. I know a few pakistani girls… they are such bright intelligent women !! There is talent in pakistan people .. make use of it.. salvage your country…… Let peace and good sense always prevail …. Recommend

  • atts

    @tanoli: err btw jinnah was khoja shia (also called choti jamat) & presently the writer is just talking about the white frosting side of the cake….. why does everything end up with ‘poor us muslims’ Recommend

  • Mustafa

    How is supposed to give rights to our minorities..the majority, right? And when the majority is discriminated against…then what? Recommend

  • tanoli

    @ waseem & N.S
    We know there are minorities hindus,christian,ahmedis, zikkris, and may be some other
    live in pakistan and they get off on there holidays i worked in oil firm in karachi and i know
    that and our children do know that and we respect them no matter what is there reliegen is
    please dont tell us what to do my text was we as a muslim mejority not even getting our
    wrights what we supposed to get there is chacha, maama appoinments still exist in big
    firms own by govt no merit at all there is four diffrent school system runs in country and
    what u guys think if you can read wtie little bit english you become god chosen if you are
    allergic with mullah madrassas that badely please could you guys open a english school
    and give them a free education can u guys country 80% peoples dont even understand 5%
    of english and u trying to change the country good luck and by the most educated and eng
    spoken in pak are more crrupt than those poor mullahs who atleast trying to teach holy quran so they can pray after there parents. and one last thing mr jinnah was a khoja agha
    khani and nothing wrong with that i believe so.Recommend

  • laieq

    Its not the matter to be a secular state Islam like secularism give equal rights to all minorities.Unfortunately in our country establishment has committed atrocities against minorities by exploiting islam either its christian, Hindus or ahmadi’s.Its bitter truth that minorities in pakistan dont feel any freedom they are scared to express their views even if they are on right because they know that they can persecuted or killed by Blasphemy law.Good work done by writer (Daniyal) to highlight this issue because most of us live and state of denial and believe that minorities are given equal rights in Pakistan but the truth is that we can’t even protect (zuljinah jaloos in muharram) the minor religious sects .Recommend

  • divyasmiles

    I stand by the writer…well written!!Recommend

  • Tribune Reader

    Minorities arent the onlyl treated Pakistani’s, life is hard even for non practising Muslims as well. We get harassed, persecuted, marginalised, ridiculed, abused for not being fully unconditional practitioners. Religious compatriotss of ours see us as inferior human beings as well, they try to convert/revert us as if we have become kafirs, i kid u not. Until we can end discrimination amongs ourselves, i dont c minorites getting to taste the white frosting on that cupcake.Recommend

  • http://www.the-cakery.com Aamina Jahangir

    Lovely surprise to see our picture up there! But I will never remove that ‘white’ part from our flag :)! Pakistan Zindabad!Recommend

  • Cynical


    You never stop amazing me.
    Your reference to Jinnah’s belonging to a minority Muslim sect takes the cake. Recommend

  • http://deleted bilal

    better luck next time :PRecommend

  • SAK

    Excellent article. And before anyone shows up to whine that “we (Muslims) don’t get holidays on Eid in the UK/USA/Europe either”, please understand that there is a world of a difference between migrant communities (i.e., most of the Muslim diaspora) versus Pakistani Hindus, who are possibly the original inhabitants of this land, and as indigenous to Pakistan as we are, if not more. Their right to have equal rights with the majority is undeniable. And changing the bias in our laws is the first step towards changing the mindset. It’s a crude example, but there is a difference between the Swiss people voting in a referendum that they don’t want more minarets, versus the Swiss Govt. actually banning minarets. One reflects intolerance in society, but the other perpetuates intolerance. We have to change the second to change the first :) Recommend

  • Anon

    Daniyal, went to Aitchison around the same time as you, great read; well written; agree with your points.

    Tolerance is missing from Today’s Pakistan for sure.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely written.
    Jinnah’s Pakistan is dead – that vision was deliberately strangled at birth. The nation was born as Pakistan today we are the Islamic Republic of Pakistan but only in name. We are a nation full of religiosity but empty of religion. If the Pakistanis of other religious faiths were just treated as prescribed by Islam and the constitution, nothing more would be needed. Sadly we are incapable of even doing that. Recommend

  • KolachiMom

    I do not much care for the word minority, as it suggests the majority remain the dominant group. Pakistan is severely lacking in HUMAN rights. If that gets fixed, we cover everything. Recommend

  • Ran

    Immigrants once legally accepted by the government of their new country have equal rights just like the born citizens of the country. Your arguments are illogical. Recommend

  • My Name is Khan

    The author has written a great article but many fellow Pakistanis like our wonderfully gifted in the English language Tanoli don’t get it.

    We were a land created to protect minorities but we don’t do that. We have failed at that. Admitting that is the first step to fixing the problem. Recommend

  • SAK

    @ Ran: “Immigrants once legally accepted by the government of their new country have equal rights just like the born citizens of the country.” Very true, they should certainly get equal rights, but here we are talking about the migrants (in Pakistan’s case) getting the right to freely practice and proselytize, while the indigenous are left high and dry…and that too, constitutionally! I’m sure you see the “logic” behind the bemoaning the tragedy of indigenous people, such as the Native Americans, the Aborigine in Australia, and blacks in pre-Nelson South Africa, who were discriminated against in their own land. If you can see the migrants’ right to be acknowledged as equals, you must not ignore the natives’ right to be seen as equals :) Recommend